Story highlights

Obama will use executive branch power to boost the economy

"Whatever he can as president, he will do," Jay Carney tells CNN

Obama is unveiling initiatives for mortgage and student loan relief, among other things

Washington CNN —  

President Barack Obama will use the power of the executive branch to do as much as possible to reinvigorate the slumping economy without assistance from a divided Congress, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told CNN Tuesday.

“Whatever he can do as president, he will do,” Carney said during an appearance on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Among other things, Obama is expected to highlight measures later this week aimed at helping college graduates climb out of their student loan debt hole. One of the proposals would push up the start date for more favorable terms on a special loan repayment program based on income, sources have told CNN.

Another measure would encourage graduates with two or more different kinds of federal loans to consolidate and refinance to get a lower rate on all the loans.

Obama is also pushing a new initiative to help underwater homeowners refinance their mortgages.

Carney insisted the administration has not abandoned the push for its $447 billion jobs bill, which has been blocked by congressional Republicans. The president “continues to hope” Republicans will ultimately back the plan, Carney said. But until then, Obama will do “everything he can through executive action” to strengthen the economy.

The president “saved this economy from falling into a second Great Depression,” Carney told CNN. But he added that a 9.1% unemployment rate “is not OK” and the economy is not growing “fast enough.”

CNN’s Jennifer Liberto and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report